Aug 27, 2012, 1:05 PM EDT
Welcome to a new weekly feature here on the Notre Dame Football blog, Drive Charting, a visual illustration of numbers inside and outside the box score that you need to know. The final scoreboard is the ultimate data point in any given game, but hundreds of other measures help shape the outcome. Each week, I’ll call attention to a stat or set of stats that played a significant role in the previous weekend’s game.
For the most part, I’ll be featuring stats that aren’t included in the common box score, like Field Position Advantage (FPA) illustrated above. Football is a game played in alternating possessions, and success on a particular possession is in part a function of starting field position. Success on the next offensive possession is influenced by starting field position as well. Drive by drive, football games are won by teams maximizing the value of their own opportunities and minimizing those of their opponents.
A team may generate great field position throughout a game and pin its opponent deep on every possession. More often, games are contested on a relatively even playing field until a turnover or special teams play shifts momentum. We can calculate the field position value of each drive for each team based on starting field position. Adding those values up gives us the total field position value for the game. FPA is the percent share of that total field position value for each team.
Over the last 10 seasons (125 games), Notre Dame has won almost twice as often when it has held a field position advantage than when it hasn’t. When the Irish have had an FPA greater than 53 percent in the same span, they have won 81.1 percent of their games. It is possible to overcome a significant field position disadvantage — ND’s victory against USC in 2010 and Boston College’s win over ND in 2004 are the outlier bookends in the chart above — but it isn’t very likely. The team that wins the field position battle often controls the game.
Brian Fremeau (’99) is a college football writer, stats analyst, and data visualization designer. His work regularly appears at ESPN Insider, ESPN the Magazine, Football Outsiders, and on his own site, BCF Toys. He develops and publishes numerous possession-based statistics including the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI), a college football rating system based on opponent-adjusted drive efficiency. Follow Brian on Twitter.
About Strong and True
ND Football on YouTube
- Notre Dame has been named the FWAA National Team of the Week for its 49-14 win over rival USC. #GoIrish ☘ https://t.co/MzgtWuw5mP 4 hours ago
- RT @dallascowboys: Jaylon!!! #DALvsSF https://t.co/fzAhaP2pFt 7 hours ago
- It's GAMEWEEK! The Irish and the Wolfpack go head-to-head this Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium. #GoIrish ☘… twitter.com/i/web/status/9… 8 hours ago
- Eight weeks into season and this is still accurate. #GoIrish ☘ #MondayMotivation twitter.com/NDFootball/sta… 11 hours ago
- RT @SInow: Welcome to the Heisman race, Josh Adams on.si.com/2hW97kq https://t.co/nEDIrHK7UG 12 hours ago
- W. Basketball. Kayla McBride - Next Inductee into Ring of Honor
- Football. Notre Dame-USC: What the Irish Learned
- W. Rowing. Championship Eight, Four Compete At Head Of The Charles
- W. Volleyball. Irish Stun Miami In Incredible 3-2 Comeback Victory
- M. Tennis. Lebedev Falls In ITA Midwest Regional Quarterfinal
- Football. Replay: Trojans No Match for Physical Irish
- M. Golf. Irish to Compete in Final Fall Tournament
- W. Soccer. Irish Complete Sweep Through Florida With 2-1 Win Over Miami
- Football. Irish Bring Home Shillelagh in Emphatic 49-14 Win
- M. Tennis. Lebedev Advances At ITA Midwest Regional Championships